Childhood Memories Friday: German Reunification

Berlin Wall falls

Childhood Memories Friday

Remember when there was an East Germany and a West Germany? That’s how it was throughout my childhood years, and that’s what we learned about in school. East Germany was the communist nation, shrouded in gray. I never thought about it much, preferring its larger and more vibrant neighbor, West Germany.

When I first visited Germany in 1983, it was West Germany that our group traveled to. East Germany was not tourist-friendly. Maybe you weren’t even allowed to visit it at all? I can’t remember.

But 25 years ago this month (October 3, 1990, to be exact), East and West Germany officially reunified as the Federal Republic of Germany. German reunification is celebrated annually on October 3 as German Unity Day.

Berlin Wall falls

By Raphaël Thiémard from Belgique (Berlin 1989, Fall der Mauer, Chute du mur) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I wasn’t a child at the time of the reunification — it was my second year of teaching. The Berlin wall had come down the year prior, on November 9, 1989. I remember talking to my second graders about this. I always liked to discuss current events with my students since I think it’s important for them to be informed about the world around them. They were pretty tuned-in to Germany anyway, since Bingo the German bear puppet spoke to them “auf Deutsch” each morning, and they could count in German and say some simple phrases. We arranged the classroom into two parts, and set up a “wall” of chairs dividing the room. We later “tore down” our wall, and I hope the visual has stayed with them over the years.

Since that time, I’ve seen pieces of the Berlin Wall displayed in various places we’ve visited.

Do you have memories of the Berlin Wall coming down, or of the reunification of Germany?

5 thoughts on “Childhood Memories Friday: German Reunification

  1. When I think of the Berlin Wall I hear the words of President Reagan ringing in my head, ‘Tear Down That Wall!”
    If we only had a President like that right now!

  2. Attic Girl is right about that! Ronald Reagan was truly a President that nearly everyone respected.
    Susan, you were a great teacher always full of fun and great ideas to inspire your students. I can say that because I saw her in action first-hand at Roanoke Elementary School.

  3. What a great example with the chairs to teach the kids. I was young with the wall came down, so I never really learned much about East vs West Germany. I do remember learning about it in history class some years later. But I think if you never experienced it, it is hard to grasp.

  4. I certainly remember President Reagen’s famous words. And I remember parts of a song written about it that were popular when I was a teenager. I’m so glad it is one nation now. But I have friends who try to minister there and tell about how disillusioned the people in the eastern part of Germany still are.

  5. German reunification took place while I was a Peace Corps volunteer. I recall reading about the Wall and the rest in the Newsweek magazines we were given. There was no t.v. allowed in Malawi at that time. No internet. Stupidly I did not have a shortwave radio! I remember thinking that my degree in Russian and East European Studies was now obsolete. I was right. It was horrible getting the news so “after-the-fact.” The Gulf War was the same. It impacted me more though–it delayed our paychecks!

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